FSU's Hamilton expresses concern about NIL, the portal and the future
Leonard Hamilton has seen a lot in his 50 years of college basketball coaching.
But what's happening in 2022 -- with players transferring from school to school without limitations and NIL packages designed to offer athletes huge financial incentives -- even has the veteran Florida State coach perplexed about what the future holds.
Without criticizing the NCAA or conference officials for recent rules changes, Hamilton did express on Monday that he's concerned about how it is all going to affect the sport: Whether it will create a massive gap between schools that can offer massive NIL opportunities and the ones that can't, and if it's going to hurt high school players who now get passed over by colleges looking to solve all their problems through the transfer portal.
"I hope whoever came up with the portal idea and the NIL, I hope they're proud of themselves," Hamilton said with a smile. "Because they have made a major contribution -- whether it's good or whether it's bad, They need an award, a trophy or a pitchfork. I don't know which one that they need. But they have made a major contribution to our system. And we have to see whether it's positive or whether or not it's negative."
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Hamilton's Florida State program, which has taken some transfers and graduate transfers in the past, did not go heavy into the portal this offseason after the NCAA ruled players could transfer once and become immediately eligible. The only player who came to FSU without sitting out at all is Cam'Ron Fletcher, who played last season at Kentucky and is averaging 6.3 points and 2.5 rebounds.
The Seminoles are 8-5 overall and 2-2 in the ACC, and they have lost a handful of games already to teams that were heavily dependent on veteran transfers. They will see another such squad Tuesday night when the Miami Hurricanes (13-3, 5-0) come to town.
But Hamilton was not critical of that process or those schools for going that route. If anything, he sounded as if he might be lamenting his own decision to stick with developing high school players, which has been the backbone of his program.
"Now that kids can transfer and be eligible immediately, that's taken on a whole life of itself," Hamilton said, adding that he likely will have to adjust his approach going forward.
He did, however, express concern about how the transfer portal is going to affect high school prospects who might see limited opportunities in the future.
"People are going to be more interested in trying to stay old, and going to the portal to see who they can get out of the portal, as opposed to the process we normally have had of [developing players]," Hamilton said. "Are you better off getting a high school player? Or are you better off getting a proven college player, who might even be at a mid-major school but has grown, matured and is old enough that he's not coming in without an understanding of what he has to do at this level?"
And perhaps an even greater concern to Hamilton is how the new Name, Image and Likeness rules -- which are open to broad interpretation and in some cases change on a state-by-state basis -- are going to impact the sport's competitive balance.
Players at schools around the country are already reportedly landing seven-figure deals for promoting different goods or services.
"It's going to be a bidding war, it looks like to me," Hamilton said. "The guidelines are so vague that the schools maybe in the metropolitan areas that have got more industry, they maybe might have more contributors and financial support, might create a gap between the haves and the have-nots. ...
"It's hard to predict where we're going to be five years from now."
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